Lima – Latin America’s New Foodie Mecca

astrid-y-gastonThere is more to Peru than ceviche, the tangy raw seafood dish for which the country is famous. That starts with its street food, in particular the $1 anticucho – beef-heart kebabs marinated in garlic and aji panca chili – that will thrill even the most sophisticated palate. And from there, it can get as expensive—and as adventurous—as you’re prepared to accept. Drawing from a diverse range of ingredients plucked from the country’s rugged, bone-chilling Pacific coast as well as its hot and humid Amazon region, Peruvian cuisine is being shaped by a group of pioneering chefs whose adventurous tastes have helped put the country on the global culinary map.

Peruvian chefs took seven out of the top 15 spots in the debut listing of “Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants,” the regional offshoot of Restaurant Magazine’s global top 50 list, which was unveiled in Lima in early September. Gastón Acurio’s Astrid & Gastón took top honors, and Virgilio Martínez’s Central, located in the same upscale Miraflores neighborhood as Astrid & Gastón, ranked fourth. Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s Malabar, which combines exotic Amazonian ingredients with a touch of European flair, came in at number seven. And Maido, Mitsuharu Tsumura’s restaurant, earned an 11th-place spot for its take on Peru’s unique Nikkei cuisine, a Japanese-Peruvian mash-up that draws on a tradition that’s longer than you might have known: the large Japanese migration to Peru that dates to the late 1800s.

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